The making of FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) – part 1

As both the completion of my newest feature, FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) …and the start of its film festival run nears, I thought now would be a good time to turn the main subject of this blog over to the making of my newest film.

 

I start with BRAD’S RULES.  Or at least 99 of them.  The rules were not a part of the original script.  They were born out of necessity, when during the editing process we needed to get from point A to point F in a very long scene that was just slowing down the first act, and do so in a way that was both organic to the script and also funny.  And since Brad, one of the main characters in the film, was always mouthing off about his rules, we thought inserting those rules into the film might just work.  Thus the actual list of 100 rules was born.

 

You’ll have to judge for yourself, but I think they provide one of the biggest laughs in the film. 

 

But here now are the rules…live by them, and life will be good (which I guess is a rule in and of itself):

 

100. Friends don’t let friends fuck ugly people 

99. Try everything twice, the first time you might have been doing it wrong 

98. Fat girls give the best head because they’re always hungry 

97. Cologne: overrated…Deodorant: a must 

96. Blondes are usually too dumb to realize they’re having more fun 

95. After puberty, that’s not “baby fat”

94. ATM = the Holy Grail 

93. All hippie chicks deep throat, but few vegans swallow 

92. Women like shoes. They will look at yours; purchase accordingly 

91. BBBJ or why bother? 

90. Women cannot parallel park 

89. If you wanna fuck it, you’ve got to be willing to lick it

88. Ass, stomach, legs, boobs – in that order 

87. If it’s not dirty, you’re doing something wrong 

86. If a friend’s apartment is running low on toilet paper, you’re required to use it all 

85. Cheerleaders are overrated 

84. Under no circumstance may two men share an umbrella 

83. Never allow a conversation with a woman to go on longer than you are able to have sex with her 

82. Other than in February, the 14th of every month is Pizza and Blowjob Night 

81. Dogs are better than cats…period 

80. Bigger is never better when they’re fake 

79. Don’t leave the house if you’re not camera ready

78. A period does not equal a week off from sex 

77. Mustaches and hunting are gay 

76. Sucking your best friend’s dick, that’s priceless 

75. You are not accountable if you bring ugly people home, unless you fuck them again in the

morning 

74. If her mom isn’t a MILF, chances are she won’t be one either 

73. Fake orgasms count, as long as they’re not yours 

72. The G-spot does not exist 

71. There is NOTHING sexy about pregnant women 

70. Persistence gets you laid 

69. Never give yourself a haircut while drunk 

68. No panties = a good night 

67. Drinks hard liquor = a great night 

66. Tongue piercing = God loves you! 

65. Saliva isn’t always the best lubricant, just the most fun to apply 

64. White cotton panties and knee socks.  Enough said!

63. Never lend money to friends 

62. Never lend books, CDs, or DVDs to anyone 

61. The month you finish paying for your car, it will break down 

60. Elvis is not dead 

59. Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone 

58. What’s good for you does not always taste better.  Example: processed peanut butter vs. the all-natural kind 

57. People who don’t use turn signals deserve mandatory prison sentences 

56. Never let a girl shave your balls 

55. Porn saves lives 

54. Republicans are better at…well…nothing 

53. If you’ve never had New Haven brick oven pizza, you’ve never had pizza.  There is no pizza in New York or Chicago.  Don’t argue, you’ll just sound foolish 

52. Old country = cool  Alt-country = really cool  New country = sucks 

51. Condition your hair once a day 

50. Masturbate twice a day 

49. Eat three square meals every day 

48. Women should never cut their hair, unless they’re going to play for the other team 

47. Crying is blackmail 

46. Your choice: spay or neuter your pet…or yourself  

45. If she sleeps in your bed, sex is a given 

44. If a girl leaves her dirty panties lying around, she wants you to sniff them 

43. There’s no such thing as giving 110% 

42. Halloween is the only holiday that matters 

41. Sympathy sex trumps make-up sex 

40. Body hair just gets in the way 

39. Rip bread, don’t slice it 

38. Every man should learn how to dance, but no other man should know he can 

37. Men have no right to speak on the subject of abortion 

36. Every decade gives us only one great double album: The White Album, Exile On Main Street, London Calling, Being There, and Cold Roses. 

35. Chivalry is not dead, but she has to earn it 

34. Watch Carnival Of Souls at least once in your lifetime 

33. If your pubic hair is blond or red, shaving is optional 

32. You can cheat on girls with hairy legs 

31. If they don’t answer, it means yes 

30. Never turn down a chance to sleep with a celebrity 

29. Sex is better in warmer climates 

28. Emo guys = gay; emo gals = easy marks 

27. Never trust people who don’t drink coffee 

26. Springsteen really is The Boss 

25. If there’s a problem, talk it out 

24. If you can’t talk it out: fuck, then try again 

23. Never lease what you can buy 

22. Never break up using a post-it note, her biker friends will hurt you for it 

21. Never say “no” to a green-eyed girl 

20. Live life as if The Catcher In The Rye were your bible 

19. Don’t lie, you will get caught 

18. Admit that the 1986 Mets were the greatest baseball team of all time and life will be easier

17. Know the legal age of consent in every place you visit 

16. Wild animals belong in the wild, not in zoos, fairs, or roadside attractions 

15. Pussy farts are charming 

14. Only wear a bra if you’re going to offend me 

13. Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder 

12. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye 

11. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups 

10. When in doubt, mumble 

9. Masturbation is overrated 

8. Small boobs are misunderstood

7. Better to be feared than loved, but even better to have your love feared 

6. Handcuffs are the ultimate sex toy 

5. If you can’t convince them, confuse them 

4. Quiet girls are the most likely to toss your salad 

3.  Women do not understand remote controls, there is no exception to this rule

2. Never overthink 

 

Of course, if you want to know the number one rule, you’re gonna have to watch the film.

 

The official website is: www.FWBmovie.com 

 

Check back often for more stories from the front lines of making FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS)…

 

Friends (with benefits) POSTER
Friends (with benefits) POSTER

 

P.S. Remember my horror/comedy PSYCHOS IN LOVE will be released on DVD (complete with a boatload of extras) next Tuesday, April 28th.  You can get it at BestBuy, Netflix, or preorder it here at Amazon.com

 

I guess in a way, PSYCHOS IN LOVE had its own set of rules:

 

I hate grapes.

I can’t stand grapes.

I loathe grapes. 

All kinds of grapes.

I hate purple grapes. 

I hate green grapes. 

I hate grapes with seeds. 

I hate grapes without seeds. 

I hate them peeled and non-peeled. 

I hate grapes in bunches, one at a time, or in groups of twos and threes.

I fucking hate grapes.

 

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The top ten continues…

I turn now to friend Vinnie Penn, who has supplied a top ten cd list all his own.  Hw swears he read neither mine nor Matt Bialer’s before putting together his list.  What’s most surprising his worst cd of the year.  And this is just a theory, and I’m accusing no one of anything, but…perhaps no one actually likes Vampire Weekend except for those who were paid off to like them.  It’s the only explanation that makes sense really.  The old payola machine still turning.  Nothing having changed much since the 1950s.  Like I said, just a theory of mine.  But it sure would explain things…

Anyway, here’s Vinnie’s list, and proof positive that he is a comic after all:

Vinnie Penn’s Top Ten CD’s of 2008: 

Counting Crows—-Sat. Nights/Sun. Mornings: A damn good reason I don’t mind not doing radio on a daily basis every day anymore; why weren’t at least 3 songs from this record in heavy rotation? Lyrically, Duritz is in top form.
 
Gaslight Anthem 59 Sound—Outrageous, how good this is. Plus they open for Jesse Malin. ‘Nuff said.
 
Malin Mercury Retrograde—Nobody out there is doing it better, and nobody can argue.
 
AC/DC Black Ice—-It’s ACDC. There wouldn’t be strippers without them. Be serious. 
 
Shinedown–The Sound of Madness: Proof that there is hope for rock ‘n roll on radio. 
 
Extreme—Saudades de Rock: Proof that there is hope for rock ‘n roll with record labels.
 
The Morning Of: Great piano, great harmonies. Makes me want to walk around NYC. 
 
Hold Steady—Stay Positive: Could’ve had one or two more strong tracks but the ones that are are just window-down anthems. Love this band. 
 
Candlebox—Into the Sun: The last song on the CD alone makes it worth getting. 
 
Rick Springfield—Venus in Overdrive: My boy is still an underrated guitarist, and this record is earning him long overdue critical cred. Laugh all you want. It’s the soap thing. 
 
And what was up with Vampire Weekend? Talk about hype. Further proof that the “machine” can make hits, be it in music, publishing, on-screen, etc.   
   
Visit Vinnie’s website: http://www.vinniepenn.net/
(yeah, I know…a dot-net…explains a lot)

Best music of 2008

To take a quick reprieve from dogs and assholes…

A top ten list of sorts.  Not from either field which I call home (films, novels) but from my truest passion, music.  The best albums of 2008, in unequivocal order.  Don’t argue, you know my tastes, you know where I stand, just open your Amazon account and order those not in your collection.  It’ll be the best hundred bucks you’ve spent in a long while.

#1 – Delta Spirit – “Ode to Sunshine” – Hands down the one masterpiece of 2008, the best cd by the best new band.  Eleven tracks that evoke all things good in rock n roll from the Replacements to the Beatles, yet manage to sound original at the same time. Start with “People C’mon” or “Children,” but really there isn’t a weak or false beat on this cd.  Fucking amazing!

#2 – Paul Westerberg – “49” – a glorious mess, one never ending 43-plus minute track comprised of PW’s best work since “Stereo/Mono.”  Songs, clips, covers, noise, it’s a stream of unconsciousness from the greatest songwriter of our time.  Not for everyone, because most people won’t get it or have the patience, but if you do the rewards are never ending.

#3 – The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Hometowns” – I gave this album a shot because of a review that simply read “In the aeroplane over Alberta.”  And while not in the same league of the most perfect piece of art ever created (yes, you read that right), “Hometowns” is an instant indie noise-pop classic, loose strumming, twangs, all off-kilter and remarkably catchy.  Download “Edmonton” and you’ll be sold.

#4 – Bon Iver – “For Emma, Forever Ago” – Nine hauntingly beautiful tracks that bring to mind Nick Drake or perhaps very early Elliott Smith.  As fragile as a teenager’s heart, Justin Vernon (who essentially IS Bon Iver) has a voice that you will never forget.  Listen to the album’s final track “Re: Stacks,” a better song has not been released this year.

#5 – Langhorne Slim – “Langhorne Slim” – Another voice unlike no other, Langhorne Slim yelps and croons as if he were having way too much fun playing these songs. He picks his guitar like the 80-year-old blind man who invented the blues.  There’s a lot to like here, especially “Hummingbird,” one of the greatest songs ever written about having no choice but to move on from a relationship that just couldn’t work no matter how hard either partner tried.  It’s heartbreakingly real and so sadly beautiful. You’ll want to give Langhorne a hug.

#6 – Santogold – “Santogold” – This year’s M.I.A., poppy, bordering on the danceable, and usually nothing I would ever listen to if it weren’t so damn infectious.  Download “Lights Out” and see if it doesn’t remind you of the greatest 80s pop cd you never heard,

#7 – The Gaslight Anthem – “The 59 Sound” – if Bruce Springsteen and Paul Westerberg had a kid, this Jersey band would be it. Great, anthem-like rock n roll.  Start with the title track and you won’t let go.  And don’t let the crap emo bands they tour with turn you off.  These guys are the real thing.  (They should be touring with Wilco.)

#8 – Coldplay – “Viva La Vida” – This is not your grandfather’s Coldplay.  First off they suddenly discovered guitars, and then they discovered how to rock.  None of the wimpy ballad crap, the last four songs (starting with the title track) are as strong as any you’ll hear on almost any cd this year (except for perhaps the first three on this list).  If you’ve never liked Coldplay (I detest their other cds), now is the time to give them a shot.

And that’s my list.  Only 8 cds…there are certainly a few worthy of honorable mentions: Matthew Ryan’s “Matthew Ryan vs. Silver State,” Nada Surf’s “Lucky,’’ Crooked Fingers’ “Forfeit/Fortune,” and Mudcrutch’s self-titled cd.  But overall it was a ridiculously disappointing year, when even the usual culprits (Lucinda Williams, Ryan Adams, Conor Oberst, The Hold Steady) bored me to tears.

I will give Ryan Adams kudos for the tune “Magick,” which proved the boy knows how to rock, I just wish he’d stop whining and stop writing the same song over and over again (really the new cd sounds like bad outtakes from last year’s far superior “Easy Tiger”).  Ryan it’s okay to sound like the Replacements, it’s what you do best. 

As for the worst cd of the year.  Wow, this is so easy; I don’t even have to think about it.  It’s a cd that epitomizes all that is bad about rock music and the self-proclaimed messiah critics on the web.  Gutless, sounding like a group of 8-year-olds with child-sized instruments trying to play rock n roll, the album in question is the self-titled debut from Vampire Weekend.  Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy.  Really, if you like Vampire Weekend put out an A.P.B. on your balls, because they have seriously gone missing.

That’s it for me.  I can only hope for a better 2009, though I’m ending on a Springsteen high.  Not the Boss, but my new pup.  (See photo below).  He was one of the wild packs of hounds menacing the streets of Tennessee.  We got him through Paws4Rescue.org.  Everything about this organization is top notch and professional.  (And if you’ve been reading this blog you know the issues I’ve had with other so-called rescue groups.)  Well, these guys are the real thing.  Donate, get your next pup from them, and/or recommend them to a friend: www.Paws4Rescue.org.

In the mean time, and while you’re surfing the web, check out the updated site for our new movie FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS): www.FWBmovie.com  

Then order a copy of the YOU ARE ALONE dvd: www.YouAreAlone.com

And read a free short story on my site: www.GormanBechard.com

 

Now I close with another top ten list, written by one of my closest friends, Matt Bialer.  I finished my list without seeing his, and visa-versa.  I present his now, unedited, and knowing there’ll be plenty to argue about:

 

 

Top 10 CD from Matthew Bialer

No order: titus andronicus: the Airing of Grievances.  I’ll say. One big drunken, sloppy Jersey fuck you to all.  If you like beer and more beer, great songs, the Clash, Pogues, Bruce, Mekons….      

The Gaslight Anthem: the ’59 Sound.   Great anthemic rock that is like Bruce meets the Clash.  It is what rock n roll is all about.  Has balls and evokes a lot of rock n roll iconic shit. 

Land of Talk: Some are Lakes.  I love Liz Powell’s voice and songs.  Just great stuff.  Kind of evokes girl grunge, I suppose. 

Delta Spirit: Great record. And no Gorman, it’s not Replacements derived.  It’s like Arcade Fire meets the Zombies. 

Frightened Rabbit: the Midnight Organ Fight.  Great Scot Pop.  If you like Orange Juice, teenage Fanclub, the Twilight Sad.  

Tapes ‘n Tapes: Walk it Off.  Fuck everyone who dissed this sophmore effort. Fuck you all. I like it and I still play it.  And it’s better than most of Pitchfork’s top ten including Fleet Foxes, No Age and Deerhunter (some great songs but a little filler there, ey?)

Guns n Roses: Chinese Democracy.  Because I like bands with “n” in the middle and because Axl Rose on a bad day (day? Bad 15 years, I guess) can still kick a lot of bands asses that critics swoon over.  

A.A. Bondy: American Hearts. Kind of in the same spirit of Deertick.  Mellow. Acoustic. But tough. The singer was the main dude from Verbena.  Really good.

Birdmonster: From the Mountain to the Sea. Another great record that Pitchfork really shit on. Well I think this record is superb. For fans of Wilco, Dylan, great roots rock.  I love this record.

Overpraised records: Vampire Weekend.  I admit to tapping my foot a bit but not a great band.  Also, they are like the second coming of Haircut One Hundred down to the preppy sweaters.  And where are Haircut One Hundred now?? Exactly.  And Haircut were better and even had more balls (gumball sized, as opposed to none).  

Fleet Foxes: something fey and pretty here but I don’t get the critics going nuts over them. A few good songs but not terribly exciting to me.

No Age: I like some of this but anyone who plays this over and over and over again has to be suspected of brain damage.  I wish they had more “songs” here but there is talent. 

TV On the Radio: don’t get them. And what is this horseshit that they “speak for the times”.  Yeah, for the times bumming around in a cafe in Williamsburg. 

I wanted to like the new Hold Steady because I like them but this new one is weak to me, despite a few good songs. 

The Walkmen.  The guy is like Englebert Humperdink fronting a wedding band on only its “rock out” numbers.

 

Springsteen
Springsteen

 

 

Life IS too short to deal with assholes…

Unfortunately they surround us. 

Recently I posted an ad looking for musicians to score my new film, and/or to provide additional songs for the sountrack.  I wanted to see what was out there.

One particular West Coast musician responded and provided two links, neither of which I could get to play.  I wrote back and said as much, asking politely for another link.  As a response I am told that my computers are not working properly and/or perhaps I don’t know how to use them.  But the bright young lad does provide a working link this time.  After hearing the music, I write back telling his thanks but it’s not really what I’m looking for…I had in the ad requested a Replacements-like sound, i.e. drunken bar music…guitar based rock n roll.  (He seemed to overlook the description of what is was looking for.)

This musician in question responds, telling me that I should have known that because of his training classical music  he could write a drunken rock song in his sleep…anyone could. 

Now, yes, I should have lived by my asshole rule.  Instead I rightfully argued that no one genre of music was easier or harder than the next if done to perfection.  That “Here Comes A Regular” by the Mats was just as hard to create as any piece by Bach, Chopin, whomever.  I also tried to (again politely) inform the musician that when attempting to get a job attacking the potential employer is not the best way to go about it.

Of course this unleashed a torrent.  My films sucks.  My novels suck.  Lots of big words, like a 5-year-old jacking off with a thesaurus.  He just knew from the ad that FWB sucked.  (Not really sure why he answered the ad if that was the case.)  The emails get longer and longer, despite my one line replies.  I finally tell the asshole in question I don’t read long emails.  I don’t.  This is a fact, a rule, that I live by.  I simply refuse to.  If you can’t say it in a couple of lines, then don’t bother saying it at all.  Or pick up the goddamn phone.  Yet he continues writing these thesis-length missives, of which I read the first line, then delete…and delete again…until I finally block his email.

Of course, instead of listening, instead of taking a hint, he throws a tantrum, and writes me from another email address.  It’s another long one.  Didn’t read it.  As soon as I realized who sent it, I reported it as spam.  Hopefully the spam police beat him to death with their billy clubs.  Save me the effort.

I guess this leads me to ask, why?  Can a musician in a band (note, I never insulted his music, though I might say now he listened to a little too much Emerson Lake and Palmer in the womb) whose claim to fame is a MySpace profile really think that much of themselves?  Does one really believe a degree from any university makes their shit not stink?  Does any musician worth the weight of their string actually believe their genre of music is the hardest?  And hold other genres in little respect?  (Really now, to write a great piece of music, no matter the genre, takes a lifetime of pain, or experience.  And to think otherwise is nothing short of, well, a racism of sorts…genre-ism…bigotry…the MySpace lad might as well wear a white sheet over his head ready to lynch the blues, rock, CW, folk, etc., and so on.)

I hope not.  Because if this were true we are in a sadder shape than even I first believed. 

And wow…I don’t have much faith.

Except perhaps in dogs…

 (and the Replacements)

J

Just say NO to Billy Zane

OK…locked the cut of FWB.  Sent it off to Sundance.  Fingers crossed.  Still need to work more on the score, need to do the sound mix, tweak the color…(it never ends…making a film is like having a child)

Speaking of children…there’s been a producer trying to turn my last book UNWOUND into a feature for some time now.  And it looked like it was finally going to happen.  A lot of Canadian tax credit funding crap…and with a decent leading lady on board.  The only hitch: the leading man.  Now I  know how difficult it is to make a featyre, especially on a limited budget, so I try to remain open to casting possibilities.  When the list of potential leading men was presented to me, I approved all but one, Billy Zane.

Why?  Well, I directed Zane in my film THE KISS.  Every day (EVERY FUCKING DAY) he’d show up on set with his scenes completely rewritten.  I’m not talking about a few line changes here and there.  I’m saying nothing remained of the old scene, not even its intent.  Instead there were pages of mind-numbingly dumb dialog which had nothing to do with the story we were trying to tell.  When I would explain to Zane that I appreciated his effort, but we were shooting the scene as written, and that he had over a month to address any potential problems he might have had with the script, he’d sulk, he’d moan, and our spineless producer would give in.

When I’d try to explain to Zane that the caps and hats he insisted on wearing in EVERY FUCKING SCENE looked silly at best, and gay at worst (not that there’s anything wrong with that, except that the character he was playing was not gay), he’d throw another mini-tantrum and refuse to take it off.

Twice on set I had to be restrained from lunging at him.  Not that to beat the living crap out of him would have done anything other than get me fired.  Instead I stood back and allowed him and the producer to destroy my film.

So when the producer of UNWOUND finally admitted that Zane would be the one she could get and that her backers would approve, I said NO.  The check wasn’t worth it.  I wasn’t going back in time.  I had made YOU ARE ALONE and now FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) to take the vile taste of THE KISS out of my mouth.  (When I signed on for THE KISS I thought I was making a cool romantic drama with Eliza Dushku and Terence Stamp.  I didn’t realize that the producer was just in fact making a $3 million demo reel for his wife…but that’s another rant.)

Life is too short to deal with assholes.  A good rule to live by.

And I never wanted to have real kids.